World Turkey to 'act' should Syrian Kurdish forces attack Turks: Erdogan

Turkey to 'act' should Syrian Kurdish forces attack Turks: Erdogan
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in meeting with the US President Donald Trump in the White House, Washington DC, USA, May 16, 2017. (Photo: Reuters)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his American counterpart President Donald Trump during their White House meeting on Tuesday that Turkey would implement rules of engagement should the US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces direct "any attack" on his country.

"We won't be asking [for permission from] anyone," Erdogan told Trump.

The US President, ahead of the Erdogan's arrival in Washington DC, approved a Pentagon plan to provide heavy arms and armored vehicles for the People's Protection Units (YPG) fighting against the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria.

Erdogan last month said his army could attack the YPG any time it wanted after the Turkish air force staged airstrikes on the group's headquarters in NE Syria, killing 25 Kurdish fighters.

One of his advisors, Ilnur Cevik, went as far as to say Turkish rockets could also "accidentally" hit US troops embedded with the Kurds.

Erdogan talked to members of the Turkish press in his country's Washington Embassy, in front of which some of his bodyguards assaulted American-Kurdish protestors according to the major Hurriyet newspaper.

"Leave the terrorist groups, come, let's fight terrorism together, I said. Unfortunately, they did not [agree with us]," claimed Erdogan, equating Kurdish forces with IS.

The Turkish view of the Syrian Kurdish forces stems from the YPG's controversial ties with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey.

The US agrees with its NATO ally that the PKK, which has been waging a decades-long guerrilla warfare against Turkish troops for greater Kurdish rights, is a "terrorist" organization.

It nevertheless maintains the YPG as a trusted ally in Syria.

"Who is going to settle down in Raqqa when you finish IS. Who are the local people there? Arabs. So are you going to fill up those areas with the Kurds," Erdogan reportedly asked Trump.

The YPG-dominated multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been leading a campaign to capture the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa which has since early 2014 served as the de facto capital of the self-declared IS Caliphate.

The burgeoning Kurdish-American alliance against IS has worried Erdogan, who at times called the YPG-secured strip of land across Turkey's southern border, which Kurds call Syrian Kurdistan, "a terror corridor."

 

Editing by G.H. Renaud